THREE brothers accused of abusing a girl more than 30 years ago could face a re-trial after a jury was deadlocked in their case.

The panel of seven men and five women could not decide on claims by the accuser that she was systematically attacked in the 1970s.

Keith, 56, John, 58, and Alan, 53, Whittingham, will find out next week whether prosecutors plan to take the case to court again.

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The jury at Teesside Crown Court spent ten hours over two days deliberating on the charges faced by the Hartlepool brothers.

The alleged victim - a schoolgirl at the time - told the court that she was raped by two of them and sexually assaulted by them all.

Keith Whittingham, of Garside Drive, denied four charges of rape and indecent assault and one of indecency with a child.

John Whittingham, of Clarkson Court, pleaded not guilty to three counts of indecent assault; and Alan Whittingham, of Carlton Street, denied four charges of rape.

Ater their arrests, all three men strenuously denied the allegations and said the claims had been fabricated.